Why buy an electric car when you can have a supercharged 5.0-litre V8 for the family SUV? The good news is Jaguar offers both: the electric I-Pace and this ridiculous new 2020 F-Pace SVR.
If you have to put them in context, the I-Pace is the super smart kid at school who always tries to do the right thing, even if the means don’t justify the end result. The F-Pace, on the other hand, is the athletic kid on a sporting scholarship who'll probably be a lot more fun to hang out with. Even if he’s a bit old school.
The fact that Jaguar even makes the F-Pace SVR is a miracle in today’s over-regulated and ‘environmentally-conscious’ market – though, let’s not ask all the electric car owners where their electricity comes from in Australia...
Why pick the V8? Because while there's currently no real incentive to buy an electric cars, we might as well enjoy the best of what will undoubtedly represent the end of an era for SUVs.
There's next to no chance Jaguar will put an engine this ridiculous into an SUV in ten years time.
Here we have a giant, old-school engine with a supercharger delivering an outrageous 405kW of power and 680Nm of torque. Best of all, it does that without turbos, so it sounds absolutely fantastic as it screams through the rev range. The supercharger whine only enhances the experience, rather than muffling it like turbos.
Jaguar has actually removed restrictions on the supercharger whine for the F-Pace, putting into effect an active exhaust system that uses electronically-controlled exhaust valves capable of opening or closing at any point, as opposed to opening at a set RPM or pressure level.
This allowed engineers to develop a dynamic sound profile offering extra noise when a traditional bi-modal exhaust would be closed. This includes low speeds and under part throttle. Have a listen to its startup sound on our Facebook page for more...
It’s the same V8 we’ve loved from the brand for many years now, and one that made the F-Type SVR and Range Rover Sport SVR so special, even if the F-Pace model doesn’t have the exact same sense of wildness as its more expensive brethren.
It's missing a tad in the overrun crackle department, likely due to new noise regulations in Europe.
The best thing about buying the F-Pace SVR? Jaguar’s super sharp pricing. You can order one from $140,020 before on-road costs, which makes it significantly cheaper than the likes of the Mercedes-AMG GLC 63S ($172,400), Mercedes-AMG GLE 63S ($195,030), F85 BMW X5 M ($188,729) and Audi SQ7 ($161,900).
None of those cars sound nearly as good, and they're all far more focused on being potent on paper than delivering the level of emotional connection you get from an old-school V8 that sounds as angry like a WW2 Churchill tank.
At this price the SVR is best compared to the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk ($134,950) and Alfa Romeo Stelvio Q ($149,900). The Trackhawk is equally manic and sounds just as good, but we're comparing a Jeep to a Jaguar and that mightn't make an awful lot of sense.
As for Stelvio Q? It's a genuinely excellent car, but then you own an Alfa Romeo (and I say that because we own an Alfa Romeo).
Jaguar claims the F-Pace SVR uses 11.7L/100km (95 RON) but that’s only if it’s being driven by your grandmother. While she’s asleep. Any semi-conscious human will turn this thing on and immediately be hooked by the growl and noise.
This is an angry, angry car and it doesn’t like going slowly. Expect minimum fuel usage in the 15.0L/100km bracket, if not higher.
There's so much torque from the engine that keeping your right foot planted will see your licence confiscated faster than you can say 'hang on kids!'. The response from the accelerator is also astonishing across the whole rev range. As good as turbos are, a supercharger is just so much more fun.
The SVR is stupidly fast, going from 0-100km/h in 4.3 seconds. While that’s not as quick as some of its rivals, it produces a symphony unlike any other modern SUV bar the Trackhawk.
The exterior of the F-Pace has been enhanced with unique front and rear treatments, most obviously through the bonnet and side vents, a rear spoiler, and giant quad exhausts. Our test cars rode on optional 22-inch wheels and, with adaptive suspension, the ride is firm but not uncomfortable. Certainly, it’s the sort of car you can easily live with daily, especially in comfort mode.
Jaguar has increased spring stiffness at the front by 30 per cent and the rear by 10 per cent compared to the supercharged six-cylinder, as well as adding performance-focused anti-roll bars to decrease body roll by five per cent.
Other changes include 30mm wider tyres at the rear (now 295mm) and the introduction of an electronic active differential at the rear with braked torque vectoring. The differential can electronically progress from fully open through to any variation of closed, with the ability to apply up to 2000Nm of locking force across the differential.
The interior is where the F-Pace is let down a little bit. The SVR sport seats and steering wheel are both gorgeous, and nice to touch and hold, but the rest of the cabin – headlined by the outdated centre console – are in need of an upgrade now we've seen how good a Jaguar interior can look in the updated XE.
We'd love to see the interior treatment from the Range Rover Velar – sister car to the F-Pace – carried over.
Some bits that really should be standard remain an option, such as DAB+ digital radio ($950), a head-up display ($2650), and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto ($495).
The F-Pace sits somewhere in the middle of what has become the standard size for luxury SUVs. Think of it as somewhere between a BMW X3 and BMW X5 size-wise.
The fact it's not as small or as big as either respectively makes it the perfect size for many families with two kids who don’t really want a large SUV. As a current F-Pace owner, this author has found the car’s dimensions perfect for inner-city living with two young boys.
Much like the wider F-Pace range the SVR benefits hugely from an aluminium construction, which helps keep weight down and (as a result) improves handling and dynamics, but also performance and efficiency. To put it into perspective, a regular F-Pace weighs less than a much smaller E-Pace and its steel chassis, such is the importance of a lightweight construction.
Weight in the SVR was further reduced across the body and with the option of lightweight wheels (2.4kg lighter front, 1.7kg lighter rear), while the exhaust system shaves a further 6.6kg of body weight, incorporating lightweight architecture and a reduction in back-pressure to allow better flow from the engine.
We found the F-Pace’s dynamic capability rather astonishing. For such a large car, you can certainly push it incredibly hard in tight corners and there's no hint of body roll, understeer or oversteer. It loves long sweepers and if you happen to find yourself a hill and plant the right pedal to the floor, it'll sing its way up the road in a truly glorious fashion.
It’s impossible not to smile like a complete idiot in that situation. The emotional enjoyment this car brings to the driver can't be overstated. On the downside, the steering could be a bit more communicative, but it’s super sharp and responsive regardless. We found the stupidly large 395/396mm brakes and twin-piece calipers more than capable of offering relentless stopping performance
The good thing the SVR is that once you’ve had your fun and want to roll back home without causing much of a fuss, you simply take it out of dynamic mode and select comfort. The exhaust shuts up (mostly), the suspension eases up, and it becomes far more docile.
At the end of the day, there are a lot of negatives about the 2020 Jaguar F-Pace SVR if you want to think about it rationally.
It uses too much fuel, it’s unnecessarily fast and loud, some would call it ostentatious, and it’s absolutely, most definitely, not ‘environmentally friendly’ if that means anything to you (nor is eating meat, but hey..), but it’s simply so rewarding. It warms your soul.
The Jaguar F-Pace SVR is one of the greatest, most charming SUVs you can buy today. It’s the antithesis of boring. It presents such an emotionally appealing package that no true car enthusiast can see one and not feel a sense of pride. It represents the end of an era, the best of old-school untamed motoring presented in a very usable package. It’s simply superb.